A contest to develop new drone technology for the film industry has attracted 30 entries a month out from the cut-off point.

New Zealand is seen as a potential leader in developing and testing drones and government-funded Callaghan Innovation is offering a UAV (unmanned autonomous vehicle) "C-Prize" for innovation in the industry.

Initial entries include a UFO, a bionic propeller, a flying stingray and a range of other concepts to reduce noise, increase stability and track the speed of moving objects.

Cinematographer Richard Bluck has worked on The Hobbit, King Kong and Avatar and is a judge.


He said he had been "blown away" by the quality and degree of innovation in the first group of entries.

"The technology and products that result from this competition are really going to advance the use of UAVs and allow us to capture amazing footage in the future."

Karl Butler, developer of a 50cm diameter UFO, said his twin propeller invention had filming technology that seamlessly tracked moving objects.

An animator who has worked on TV commercials and documentaries, he said the contest was the catalyst for developing technology he had thought about for years.

The contest closes on July 5 and is open to New Zealand-based students, innovators and entrepreneurs to solve technical challenges including improving the ability of UAVs to record and reproduce high-definition sound, operate in rough weather and track objects for augmented reality and visual effects purposes.

Those making it through the first round each receive $10,000 and support from Callaghan Innovation, Massey University and Creative HQ to develop prototypes.

The grand prize winner - to be announced in December - will receive $50,000 as well as an expenses-paid trip to exhibit at the 2016 National Association of Broadcasters trade show in Las Vegas, the largest international trade show for media content and technology.